April 27, 2013

PROM: Bodice Redo & "Yule Ball" Sleeves

Ready for prom?  Ohhhh yeeeaaaahhh...!

This dress was the 4th of this particular group I got to fix up and get ready for the big night!  Would you like to hear it's story?

Here was my client's inspiration.  Hermione's dress at the Yule Ball - sleeves in particular.    She liked the pieced bodice , too.  But the sleeves - oh my!  Very dramatic and breathtaking - this is what we are going for!

This dress has an amazing story actually...she found it at a thrift store.  It was the perfect length for this tall, lovely girl.  She knew it had great potential and she trusted me to bring it out.  It was a simple princess-lined bodice that just needed to fit properly.  And, the straps.  Just skinny, boring straps.  (But - the beading there is pretty).   She just wanted something with much more excitement and flare to suit her, and a little more coverage, too.

First, we needed to address the fit.  The bodice needed taken in a bit and the center front was not left out in this operation.  (Refer to the inspiration above).  

And that beading detail was not just a trim that was laid on, by the way.  It was all hand-stitched individually, so it could not just be removed as one piece of trim and re-laid.  It had a running stitch through all of it, so the beads could not just be cut out, they had to be cracked at the new seams, so they would lay flat.  (Sorry for the details, but you should know it was not as easy as it may look ;)
Now, I need to prepare you for the next picture.  I already explained how this dress needed sleeves.  I am going to add them underneath the straps and make them look like they were "born there".  But one needs matching fabric to do this!  So...

This dress had 3 layers to it!  One lining of course and 2 skirt layers!  2!  No, this is not unheard of, but, not that common.   It was probably to create more fullness and drape, or to act like a second "lining".  But most of these types of dresses have a lining and a skirt layer - that's it!  So she bought this dress with the thought that somehow that extra layer of fabric could be used for the sleeves - which is exactly what I did!

Here I am, cutting out the middle layer of the skirt.  (And holding my breath just a bit ;)  So the lining stays and the main skirt layer stays!  And you won't even be able to tell...

Ta-da!  Now I have fabric to work with! 

So I measured the straps, and determined how long the sleeve should be.  Then I made a pattern draft for a circular sleeve.  This will make that ruffly flowy shape we wanted. The inside circle of the sleeve will go along the length of the strap.  We can press later ;)  

Here she is at our first fitting.  One strap and one sleeve being fitted.  Do you recognize this beautiful girl?

A couple views of the work in progress - yes it photographed two different reds. The left is most accurate.

Do you love how it's laying so far?  Don't look at the wrinkles - those will steam out later ;)  I  shifted the sleeve angle slightly to raise it up in the front a bit more.  All pinned and ready to go.

So the shape of the pattern changed slightly.  I adjusted everything to be pretty again and mirrored the second sleeve.  Pressed.   Serged where it will attach under the strap.

I finished the sleeve edges with a perfect narrow rolled hem.  

Hem close up.  Don't be shy now.

Final fitting.  It is just what she wanted!  All fluttery and covers just right!

Back view.  I could faint, it's so pretty the way it hangs and flows down all ripply like that.  It's crazy how one piece can transform the dress's personality!

I think we nailed it, don't you?  How fun was this alteration?!

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April 26, 2013

PROM: Adding Tulle Straps and a Circular Ruffle Hem

These cute kids!!!  Do you recognize him?

If you have not been following yet, I had one group of girls that were all going to Prom together with their dates and they all asked me to do their alterations!  Lucky me, seriously!

She came to me with needs for a hem and a full strap addition.  And the ribbon was not laying very nicely or very secure at the waist.  

Isn't it such a cute dress?   

The skirt is full of vertical rows of tulle circular ruffles.  I love these!!!

The hem needed to come up 3".  Tulle does not need sewing so I just cut it off at 3".  (The lining was hemmed shorter at  3" also - just a regular double hem.) But what about the end of the ruffles at the bottom of the hem?  The original hem is curved and finished nice but when I cut it off, it goes all straight and looks unfinished...

I needed to move the ruffle curve down and cut off the point so that it was flush to the new hemline.  

Here it is cut off like I said above.

Now I cut the curve round again, tapering at the new hemline.

Now those seams where the ruffles are attached have to be reinforced, because when the new hemline was cut, the backstitching was cut off that held it secure.

Here is the new hem, all pretty and perfect again!

Now on to the straps.  Her mom brought me black tulle as I requested her, and I fashioned them into straps.  These were basically tubes of tulle pieces long enough to fit over her shoulders from front to back bodice, and very wide!  So I could gather the ends in really tight to fit in their places right above the bust.  (Sorry no pics of this - hopefully your imagination can picture them for you).

We fit everything just right and pins held everything in place until I could secure it properly inside the lining.  

Closeup of the strap placement.  And the ribbon looks much better, as you can see.  Nothing too good for prom.  ;)

Now, we had to try it on with the shoes.  She had these darling shoes with a large ruffly bow on them that we did not want to catch in the hem.  So this length is perfect!

And it's even great without shoes - should she want to kick them off and dance!  It's a Hem Miracle!

Finished views of the new straps  - front and back.  

Final try on and pickup!  

I love this new addition and she looks so pretty in it!  See that stitch across the shoulder?  That is to hold all that unruly tulle in place so it does not flop down over her arms.  

Beautiful from all angles!

Ok, after pickup, she wanted to make one more teensy alteration:  just make the straps a little bit narrower, please!  You bet - and it looks very delicate now against her neck area.  

Prom pictures outside!  Good times in a great dress!

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April 25, 2013

PROM: New Sleeves, a Hem & a Good Fit

A good prom dress is so worth it, right?

(Do you recognize him?  And her?  They were both in Singin' In The Rain, that I was so lucky to be costume director for a few months ago).

This is the group of four girls' dresses I was lucky enough to fix for prom this year.

She tried  it on for me and we forgot to take the very first picture of her very long train that came with it.  It was at least 6 inches too long in the front and 12 inches or so of a train.  So this is her "Before" picture, after all the length got cut off. 

She wanted to keep the original sleeves and add a little more width to them, for modesty and coverage.  There were two options for this: on the inside edge, or the outside under the lace.  (If you look closely, you can see that part of the lace sleeve has the dress fabric under it and the other part is just lace.)  The original sleeves are very loose if they stand up straight, they want to flop to the side.  We decided to work with that floppiness and add to the inside edge, nearer the neck.  

*UPDATE:  Her mother just emailed me a great "Before" picture!  I should have thought to ask her in the first place...  ;)  See how crazy long that train is?  Yay for me, that meant a lot of fabric to with!

I had marked the hem with pins and now cut a new hem, all the way around.

Another view of the hem in process.

This is very full skirt, with a lot of different grainlines, especially bias grain.  After the hem is cut, it has to hang for a while.  The weight of the bias grain does funny things (like drape and stretch) and sometimes you have to recut it later because it can hang unevenly after a few days.  

Front and back views of the bodice with the original sleeves.  That beautiful ruching is a detail that makes it breathtaking, don't you agree?  I must do it justice...  

That muslin shape up there is the pattern piece I draped at our first fitting (see the picture with the four dresses).  After the hem was cut off, we had a lot of fabric to make the new sleeve addition.  I cut four lining pieces from the pattern.  I cut a large enough piece of the chiffon to gather it to the same ratio as the dress ruching, and attached these to two of the lining pieces as a base.

I prickstitched (invisible) the gathers into pleats to mimic the bodice.  Then I attached them inside the bodice lining (remember it needs to look like it was "born there").  It sits just tucked underneath the original sleeve.

At the next fitting, I adjusted and pinned the sleeve addition, to fit and lay perfectly.  

That hem has settled a little (see that little peek on the left?)  A few tweeks and I can hem it now. 

Won't that be pretty with the lace hanging down nice and airy on the outside edge and around the back, then the middle section of lace-covering-fabric, then the pleated fabric next to her face?

We also realized that it needed to be taken in under the arms and out at the waist a little.  Can't have it too tight for prom dinner.  

Sleeve additions complete.  Hem is now final - I did the narrowest rolled hem to keep the airiness of the chiffon.

Note on how I completed the sleeve addition:  I used the last two lining pieces and sewed them right sides together to the inside edge.  Then turned it all out and understitched to make it look like those pieces were born there.  I serged the other edge that would lay under the original lacy sleeve.  I handstitched the inner edge in place.  

You can't even tell it's addition, can you?  I think it was meant to be there all along.  

Front and back views of a happy bodice with new sleeves and a happy girl!  The waist looks better now too, let out.

I love this transformation!  Perfect dress for a perfect prom night!

What more can I say?  Happy.

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